Swollen Lymph Nodes Behind Ear

Your lymphatic system is made up of networks of ducts and vessels and is responsible for transportation of the interstitial fluid back to your circulatory system. Lymph nodes also have a role in this system and are responsible for the production of antibodies and lymph filtration. They are also responsible for the production of macrophages. Therefore, they defend your body against bacteria and viruses and also remove particulate matter and toxins.

Lymph nodes are small tissue lumps that have the shape of beans and contain leucocytes. They are in every body part either in groups or singly and each group with a function of draining that part of your body. Lymph node groups are found in your groin, neck, under your armpits and behind your ears. The lymph nodes around your ear can be found at the front and back of the ears.

Symptoms associated with swollen lymph nodes behind ear include:

  • Pain and tenderness
  • Fever
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Earache
  • Redness
  • Sore throat and runny nose

Causes of Swollen Lymph Nodes behind Ear

1. Infection

Your lymph nodes tend to enlarge when your body is fighting systemic or localized infection. This is because antibodies production increases so that the infectious agent can be killed. In the process, some lymph nodes may enlarge. If you have an upper respiratory, scalp or eye infection, you may experience swollen lymph nodes behind your ear. Likewise, swollen lymph nodes behind ear can be associated with HIV/AIDS or parasitic and fungal infections.

Treatment. If you have a bacterial infection, treatment will involve administration of antibiotics. In more severe cases, antibiotic drugs can be administered intravenously.

2. Flu and Cold

Flu and cold can also cause swollen lymph nodes. Although it can cause several lymph nodes to swell, swelling will mostly be at the lymph nodes located at the back of your neck, base of your skull and behind your ears.

Treatment. Once the flu and cold have been treated, the lymph nodes will go back to their normal size.

3. German Measles

Caused by a virus known as rubella virus, German measles is a viral infection that produces a distinctive pink or red rash. The rash first appears on your face then spreads to your arms, trunk and legs. Additionally, you can develop tender and swollen lymph nodes at the back of your ears, neck and base of the skull.

Treatment. If the German measles is accompanied by muscular/joint pains and fever, you can treat them using ibuprofen and paracetamol (for children Nurofen). Other than that, the measles will have disappeared in a week or two, and after that, your body will be immune to the disease because antibodies will have been created providing immunity for the rest of your life.

4. Cancer

Cancer has also been associated with swelling of lymph nodes. This might happen as a result of accumulation of malignant or cancerous cells in your lymph nodes. Common cancers that cause nodes enlargements include Hodgkin's lymphoma (lymph tissue cancer) and lymphoma (lymph nodes cancer). Throat cancer and leukemia can also cause swelling of lymph nodes.

Treatments. Chemotherapy, radiation, and stem-cell transplant are some of the treatments used to kill the cancerous cells. Some alternative treatments used to cope with discomforts that come with cancer include aromatherapy, massage, relaxation techniques, acupuncture and meditation.

5. Allergy

Using some medications may cause an allergic reaction. As a result, the lymph nodes behind your ear may swell, among other symptoms.

Treatment. If you have developed an allergic reaction, your physician may recommend using antihistamines. Anti-inflammatory drugs can also be prescribed.

6. Physical Trauma

When you suffer from physical trauma, you may suffer from several symptoms. Swollen lymph nodes behind your ear can be one of the symptoms.

Treatment. Seek medical advice if you think your swollen lymph nodes may have been caused by the serious physical trauma you experienced. Your doctor may prescribe painkillers especially if the swelling comes with pain.

7. Strep throat

Strep throat can also cause swollen lymph nodes behind your ear, and they may feel tender upon touch. Having throat infection can also cause fever, swollen throat, pain and difficulty when swallowing.

Treatment. Antibiotics are mostly used for infections of the throat. Non-steroidal OTC anti-inflammatory medications will also help with tenderness experienced in the swollen nodes.

8. Tooth Abscess

Having a tooth that has abscess means that the tooth has formed a pocket in the area infected. Bacteria are able to access the gums thereby causing the development of pus. This tooth will be painful and sensitive especially to hot foods. Subsequently, you will have fever and the neck lymph nodes will be swollen.

Treatment. Treatment includes rinsing the mouth using salty, warm water. You can also take OTC painkillers like ibuprofen and acetaminophen. Depending on the severity of the abscess, your dentist may suggest antibiotics, root canal or removing the infected tooth.

9. Other Causes

Other causes include herpes, some STD, and shingles. There are also other causes that are less common and they include tuberculosis, lupus, and mononucleosis and rheumatoid arthritis. In case of autoimmune diseases, your physician may recommend using an immunosuppressant.

Home Remedies for Swollen Lymph Nodes behind Ear

  1. Castor oil. Heat some castor oil then massage the swollen glands gently. Castor oil is known for its penetrating and treating properties.
  2. Apple cider vinegar. Take some fresh and pure apple cider vinegar once each day. It will attack the fungus and bacteria.
  3. Hot compress. Hot compress and heat pads (like a towel dipped in water) dipped in hot water then pressed on the swollen glands might reduce the swelling. Repeat the procedure several times until the redness diminishes and the swelling is reduced.
  4. A mixture of mineral oil or petroleum jelly with diluted lavender can be applied on the swollen nodes as often as possible to heal them.

When to See a Doctor

In most cases, swollen lymph nodes are not to be taken too seriously. However, you must seek medical attention immediately if:

  • the swollen nodes are accompanied by weight loss, night sweats and fever without an obvious sign of infection,
  • the swollen nodes behind your ears last for over 2 to 3 weeks
  • you experience prolonged fever
  • the skin is red & inflamed
  • there is swelling near the neck or collar bone
  • you have ever had cancer and experience swollen nodes in the area where the cancer was

However, you should take precautions to avoid aggravated situations resulting from delayed medical treatment. Early diagnosis will help to seek out the underlying problem early to avoid any further discomfort. Therefore, do not delay medical attention more than a week from the time you had an enlarged lymph node.

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